now I make them

After acquiring a 3D printer, there have been many useless objects that I have been creating to see how they were. But not everything was going to be useless, It was time to look for objects with which I could make the purchase profitable. Like cell phone cases: I have stopped buying them because now I make them myself. Literal.

Having a 3D printer at home seems like an eccentricity rather than something practical. And it would be difficult for me to refute it: the huge collection of dolls, gadgets and absurd utensils that I have been downloading from the Internet and then printing them is vast. A lot of. From a head massager (seriously) to Android dolls: the sensation of touching an object out of nowhere is almost magical, it is shocking. But not everything was going to be useless, that a 3D printer can save a lot of money. It was time to check it out.

That the analysis mobile comes without a cover? No problem

Purchased sleeve (left) vs printed sleeves

Analyzing several mobiles each month has many satisfactions, especially if you love technology. However, it has its drawbacks beyond the struggle with delivery times: given that mobile phones on loan tend to come without a cover, any carelessness can end with a broken screen, for example. And nobody wants to return a damaged mobile.

In my house we had been considering the purchase of a 3D printer for several years. We never decided to take the step because we found it difficult to take advantage of the investment: even though they allow us to solve a large part of the domestic problems through manufacture of almost any damaged partFinding the concrete plans of the pieces is not always feasible. Even so, we had an ace up our sleeve: my wife works as a 3D designer.

Thanks to his years of practice designing by computer using cutting-edge CAD programs, we believe that I could draw those products that we need and then print them. With that idea in mind we decided: we would be self-sufficient in plastic jackets.

Custom case in full print process

Buying a 3D printer is not easy given the huge number of models on the market. Luckily they are a type of device that has seen its price significantly reduced: There are printers that, for just over 150 euros, do a very good job. We raised the budget to acquire a model that, according to the specialists, offered a very good quality / price ratio: the Artillery Sidewinder X1. In our experience, it is highly recommended.

Printing all kinds of bullshit is a temptation that is impossible to resist. The litmus test comes when printed parts really add utility

Like everyone who buys a 3D printer, we too let ourselves be seduced by the huge amount of 3D models that are available on the Internet to print. But we were looking for something more useful and that we could take advantage of. So, after fixing a broken kitchen machine (the drive sprocket was damaged and there is no replacement), it occurred to me create our own phone cases. In this way I would have a case with which to protect any phone, be it mine or analysis. The idea seemed good.

Plastic covers, yes, but personalized

Vertical printing process with support tree

How many times have we heard that saying ‘You buy a mobile for a thousand euros and then you put a case of five’. It is typical: as long as it protects the minimum it is enough, even if under the cover there is a phone that is worth a salary. Normally made of plastic, and with the basics to protect the phone, most of the covers could easily be printed at home. I can attest to that.

My first experience was with my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It usually has an alcantara sheath that makes it much easier to grip (holding it without a sheath is almost like fishing for trout with your hands), but I was looking for something more basic and that I could print easily with the filaments that he had acquired for the first tests. I opted for a Thingiverse case designed by hjgdgtfvdt.

The results were really good: after several hours of printing I got a case that not only looked like a store, it also fitted the phone perfectly. Light, more than enough for day to day and with the option of making it in various colors in case I wanted to combine it with my daily outfit (lie, I don’t take off my pajamas). Now it was time to go one step further.

My wife started designing a case for the Samsung Galaxy S21 from scratch. He took the caliper to transfer the measurements to the computer screen, created the Engadget logo in 3D and then used it with any other object and completed the model that would serve as the basis for the rest of the phones: you just have to adapt the base to the new measurements to have a printed cover in a few hours. No more spending five euros on each case, we finally made the 3D printer profitable.

Yes, it is sarcasm.

Many covers must be printed to make a printer profitable

Printing in 3D is easy; that the final finish is adequate no (the hollow of the letters disappeared along with the support)

To get profitability from a 3D printer, saving on covers is not enough, I have been able to verify it. In terms of material, it does pay off (with a one-kilo coil, which costs about twenty euros, about sixty covers come out), but at that cost we must add electricity, creation and printing time, what it takes to polish the already printed pieces (it can be really complicated) and, if you are looking for a more professional finish, you also have to paint the result. Of course, I will not be the one to deny the fun that the world of 3D printing offers: if you like technology, you will be freaked out by that world.

With the printed covers I save myself having unprotected mobile phones pending analysis, I can also personalize my own cases with names, drawings, finishes and, ultimately, everything that comes to mind. If you can imagine it you can create it. And the results are much more robust than they appear.

If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and you want to print the case that we modified with the Xataka logo (adapted from hjgdgtfvdt), you can download the STL from this link.